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Jackson playing head games with these two

January 10, 2009|Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has never shied away from zinging players.

Friday was no different. He picked at the play of Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic, reserves who have had to take on larger roles because of a spate of injuries.

Jackson's unhappiness with Vujacic began when the fifth-year pro picked up a late technical foul Tuesday during a loss to New Orleans.

"We just had to come to the conclusion that Sasha's just an emotional player that plays by the seat of his pants, and that's about it. He just doesn't have a brain," Jackson said before Friday's game against Indiana. "He's just out there whacking away and working really hard. He's not using his head out there at times. We're working with him, hoping that he will."

Playing off the no-brain theme, a media member asked whether Vujacic needed to see "The Wizard of Oz."

"Maybe he needs to get in that poppy field for a while," Jackson said jokingly, referring to a scene in the movie in which Dorothy falls asleep in a field of poisonous poppies.

Jackson was similarly critical of Radmanovic, who totaled three points on one-for-10 shooting in his first two starts after being demoted for 12 games. He played better Friday in his third start this month, scoring eight points on three-for-five shooting.

"He really hasn't merited starting, there's no doubt about it," Jackson said before the game. "Now with Luke [Walton] and Lamar [Odom] out for that time period, I really think we're almost forced to use him for those early minutes in the ballgame and hoping he can give us something in the process."

Jackson said he still didn't like the idea of starting Trevor Ariza, who has said he preferred to play with the second unit.

"We just don't want him to have to get out there and play a 40-minute game," Jackson said.

Still smarting

Odom limped into Staples Center on Friday night, the pain from a bone bruise in his right knee still an issue for the Lakers forward, the swelling in the back of the knee still a problem.

Odom has sat out the Lakers' last two games and is not sure when he'll play again. He "hopes" to practice today and if all goes well, he "hopes" to play Sunday when the Lakers play host to Miami.

The Lakers have listed Odom as day to day, though bone bruises can sometimes be week to week.

"They've told me to play when I feel like I'm ready," Odom said.

When does he think he'll be ready?

"I don't know," Odom said. "It's real achy at times. I want it to be 100%. I don't want it to be reoccurring. My pain tolerance is high. But I can't come back and be limping off."

Odom was injured in the second quarter of Tuesday night's game when he bumped knees with New Orleans guard Chris Paul.

"The injury could have been worse the way it straightened out," Odom said. "If it had [gone] to the side, it could have been nasty. But I'll be all right. I'll be good."

Scoring sensation

Joe Crawford set a D-Fenders record by scoring 45 points Friday in a Development League game at Staples Center. Crawford, a second-round pick of the Lakers in 2008, became an unrestricted free agent after being waived by them in October.

Crawford made 15 of 25 shots Friday, including five of nine from three-point range. He finished with the highest individual point total this season in the Development League, but the D-Fenders lost to the Utah Flash, 110-100.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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